Friday, August 5, 2011

My Paternal Grandfather: Albert Sidney Pendleton, Sr.

I didn't know my paternal grandfather Albert Sidney Pendleton, Sr., very well.  He died when I was 11 and had been in a nursing home for a while before that after suffering a stroke.  I was a little frightened of him; I don't know why.  He was like a giant to me when I was a little kid (he was tall) and seemed stern and quiet.  I guess I didn't feel comfortable around him because of that.  I had more interactions with my grandmother (his wife Helen).  My cousins may have a different view of him, but this is mine from a child's perspective.  After his stroke, I remember riding around with him and Grandmama once while their driver tooled us around town in their car so my grandfather could get out for a while.  I don’t know much about my grandfather’s life, but luckily, I can find some stories about him in my father’s unpublished memoir, Growing Up South Georgian (n.d.).

Albert Sidney Pendleton, Sr.
My grandfather was born in Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, on August 7, 1888.  His parents were Alexander (Andy) Shaw Pendleton and Susan Dasher Parramore.  He had four brothers (Philip Coleman, William Frederick, Francis Key, and Alexis Runette) and two sisters (Bessie Parramore and Gertrude Adala).  They had a home on Ashley Street across from the Barber home, now the Chamber of Commerce, and as has happened to a lot of lovely old homes in Valdosta, it was torn down years ago.

The Pendleton house on Ashley Street.  My father is on the steps.

His first marriage was to Nasseye Henderson.  The marriage ended in divorce, and there were no children.  I knew my grandfather had been married before, but I wasn’t told this until I was older.  Nasseye’s daughter by her second husband James Ashley was a friend of my father’s, and her granddaughter was a year or two ahead of me in school.  My father notes in his memoir,

In their divorce papers, Daddy retained ownership of their red brick home on Ashley Street next to the Pendleton home…Nasseye’s father, a rich lumber man in Ocilla, had furnished the lumber for their home, and Daddy paid Nasseye for that and got the house. 

My grandparents met after my grandmother, Helen Larue (Brown) Thomas, moved to Valdosta after the death of her first husband, Wiley Lawton Thomas, in 1918 in the flu epidemic.  She and her two young daughters, Helen Clyde and Frances Hoyt Thomas, moved in with her mother-in-law, Susan Frances (Elder) Thomas.  In my father’s memoir he says that “it was inevitable” that my grandparents would meet.  They were connected though a mutual friend, Tom Converse, and through my grandmother’s sister-in-law Clyde Thomas who had married William Fredrick Pendleton, my grandfather’s brother.  

Helen (Brown) Thomas 1917

My grandparents were married November 18, 1923, at the Thomas home on Central Avenue in Valdosta.  This house is still standing.  My father says in his memoir that my grandmother was described as “a petite blonde dressed in a brown suit with fur collar.”  My grandmother must have really been small; I wore this suit in a fashion show in the 1990s—as thin as I was (and never will be again), I could barely fit in it! 

My grandparents first lived in a house on College Street.  My father left the house number blank in his memoir, but one of my cousins thinks it was 504 College Street.  Clyde and Frances stayed with their grandmother Frances Thomas for a while but joined my grandparents later, as did my father, when he was born on March 15, 1925.  On April 13, 1927, another son was born, William (Billy) Frederick Pendleton II.  My grandfather built a house around the corner at 1504 Slater Street, and that’s the house they were living in when I was a kid.

My grandfather served as the secretary and treasurer for The A. S. Pendleton Company, a wholesale grocery business begun by his father.  After his father’s death in 1925, my grandfather became the first vice president while his older brother Philip became the president and his younger brother Alexis became second vice president (History of Lowndes County Georgia 1825-1941, General James Jackson Chapter, D.A.R., Valdosta Georgia, Reprinted 1995). 

My grandfather was an avid hunter and fisherman.  He owned a share in the Ocean Pond Fishing Club and fished at Whitewater and Cat Head.  The Pendleton family had a house at Twin Lakes built by my great grandmother Susan where they spent part of the summer.  My grandfather got up very early each morning, around 4:00 or 5:00 am, to head off to work and went to bed around 8:00 or 9:00 pm.  Here is a description of my grandfather’s typical week (well, except the part about the fire) from my father’s memoir,

In the very early morning, when it was still dark except for light from the bathroom, Daddy would let out a curse word when he dropped his razor, or towel, etc.  I heard quite a few choice words and phrases, some of which I didn’t even understand.  Daddy then cooked his own breakfast and then left for work.  One morning a pan of grease caught fire, and he rushed to the sink with it, doused it with cold water, and Mama’s kitchen curtains disappeared in a blast of smoke and fire along with Daddy’s eyebrows and some hair.  Boy, was he mad!  On Saturdays and Sundays, Daddy arose later, but he still went to the post office before we could see him; he got the mail and went to his office for a while—to see how much money was in the mail.  First, however, he visited the city jail to find out about the happenings of the night before.  Sometimes he found a friend behind bars, or someone he knew quite well—sleeping it off.  All this was part of his news when he came home for lunch—which each day always had to be on the stroke of 12:00 noon.  Between that early breakfast—which was usually large with eggs, bacon, sausage, fish roe or ham—and lunch, he had nothing but coffee or coke, and thus by lunch, he was famished.  Then he took an hour long nap and would return to work.  That was his full weekly schedule, except that I didn’t mention work, work, work each day.  He called on most of the city trade and figured the profits on all orders.  As he did this, he positioned himself at a standup desk and wore a couple of places in the floor due to his shuffling around.  He left work at five o’clock, or just before, read the paper at home until 6:30 or 7:00 pm which is when we had supper.  No wonder he went to bed early.

I believe my grandfather worked until he had the stroke.  I remember I was playing outside when my father told me that Granddaddy had "gotten sick."  I could have sworn that I was told “his heart was sick,” so for years I thought he’d had a heart attack.  I found out when I was older that he’d had a stroke.  I went to the nursing home with my father to visit him on occasion.  I remember my grandfather’s frustration as he tried to communicate with us.  He died on December 16, 1965, at the age of 77.  He is buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in Valdosta.

Albert Sidney Pendleton, Sr.


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